Things I Love

Welcome to my very first “Things I Love” post! These are where I’ll share various products, foods, etc I’m loving lately. These items might be baby-related, food-related, pregnancy-related, beauty-related, who knows. Although I’ve linked to the item and I do benefit if you click and purchase it, all of these items are truly things that I use, love, and recommend. I plan to do these posts often, so let me know if you use and love something that I should try.

earth mama organics diaper balm cloth diaper friendly

Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm. Get it. Love it. Not only does this diaper balm smell wonderful with hints of lavender and melaleuca, it’s made with organic ingredients including calendula, and it’s cloth diaper friendly- hooray! I have absolutely no qualms about rubbing this on Laurel’s delicate skin. I love this product and I love this company. They truly care about the health and safety of moms and babies.

whey protein grass fed non gmo powder unflavored

Reserveage Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder, Unflavored. As a dietitian, I’m often asked what protein powder I use, seeing as it’s one of the most commonly consumed supplements out there. Because there are so many on the market, fear, confusion, and suspicion surround this supplement. I advise people to make sure you find one without a bunch of added “junk,” such as sugar, caffeine, and/or artificial sweeteners. I love this specific protein powder because it’s 1. grass-fed and 2. tasteless (or at least damn close). This is one of the few protein powders I’ve tried that didn’t actually taste like protein powder. The beauty of this unflavored option is that you can add it to anything for a quick protein boost.

prenatal vitamin vegetarian gluten free multivitamin probiotics

Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamin. This is the prenatal vitamin I took before, during, and after (still currently taking) my pregnancy. This prenatal vitamin stands out from many other “natural” options I looked at for a few reasons. First, I loved that it was only one pill daily. I will admit that the pill is fairly large, but that wasn’t an issue for me. Secondly, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women get 27 mg of iron daily and this vitamin provides that (while many other natural options are lacking). Finally, this prenatal vitamin is vegetarian, gluten-free, and contains no artificial preservatives, colors, or sweeteners.

self tanner natural organic earth sunless

Beauty by Earth Sunless Self Tanner. My search for a natural sunless tanner started recently when Ryan, Laurel, and I were heading to Florida for vacation. I was still breastfeeding at the time and, since I had sworn off tanning beds a long time ago, I wanted to find a self tanner. My skin is naturally fair and I knew I was going to be in a bathing suit quite a bit (with loads of sunscreen on) so needless to say, I needed a tan beforehand! I found this, made with organic ingredients including shea butter and witch hazel, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve used it a few times now and it continues to impress me. I feel confident using it knowing the ingredients are safer than your average tanning lotion but, the best part is that it actually works!

foogo thermos straw cup bottle insulated stainless steel

Thermos Foogo Insulated Stainless Steel 10-oz Straw Bottle. I offered Laurel her first straw cup with water at 6 months old and she was able to use it within minutes. I tell people to just offer a straw to your child and you might be surprised at how quickly they teach themselves how to use it. Remember that babies under one year should only drink breastmilk, formula, or water. This is now the cup that I keep in my stroller, as it’s leak-proof and insulated, it’s stainless steel since I try to avoid plastic when I can, it’s dishwasher safe, and they offer different spouts so the cup can “grow” with your child. Winner!

Pictures are from Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Laurel’s Birth Story

It’s taken me a long time to muster the courage to type this story. I worry that I can’t convey the emotions I felt that day, and have felt ever since, as eloquently as they deserve. I think back on the day that my little bundle of perfection was born and it physically hurts. My chest gets tight and my fingers become shaky. Since that special day in April of last year, my heart has been living outside of my body. It’s taken on the appearance of chubby cheeks and wispy hair. It’s vulnerable, so beautifully and terrifyingly vulnerable.

Laurel’s due date was April 20th, but my awesome OB was willing to support us in going past that date before considering induction. Induction was the topic of a discussion we had with her early on, as I had a fear of being induced. I figured that one unnecessary intervention could lead to more and my ultimate goal was a completely natural birth. Since she couldn’t really give us a “medically necessary” reason for it anyways, the option was basically off the table.

At my 40 week appointment, I had my membranes stripped, in hopes of naturally progressing things along. I was already 3 cm dilated at this point and my OB said that it’s a 50/50 shot on whether the membrane stripping will do anything. I guess that makes sense, it either will or it won’t, right? I also started going to acupuncture, during which time I would feel contractions, but the contractions would subside as soon as I left the building. At this point, I was eating pineapple, spicy foods, bouncing on my birth ball, walking, and doing everything short of castor oil to induce my labor naturally.

Pregnant getting acupuncture to induce labor naturally
40+ weeks pregnant at Springs Community Acupuncture in Colorado Springs, CO.

Well April 20th passed, then April 21st, and April 22nd (membranes stripped again), April 23rd, 24th.. there we were on April 25th, two days before Week 41. My OB was really chomping at the bit for this baby to be born. Ryan was feeling a bit anxious as well and would ask me several times throughout the day how I felt, if I had any contractions, and if I could still feel the baby moving. I like to think I was feeling pretty relaxed and patient, but also very excited to meet our little one.

After several serious discussions between Ryan and I, we ultimately decided that I would be induced. I was steadfast on my decision not to receive pain medication, even though I knew that Pitocin can cause intense contractions. I was prepared, both mentally and physically. Read about how I prepared for birth here.

Leaving for the hospital as a family of 2.
Leaving for the hospital as a family of 2.

At around 7am on April 26th, my OB broke my water and I started feeling minor contractions. She had agreed to break my water first to see if that would jump start labor. As part of my birth plan, I agreed to have a hep-lock put in place, but declined an IV. I wanted to be free to move about my hospital room completely unrestricted. I bounced on the birth ball, played cards with my mom and Ryan, ate tons of snacks, walked around, and really just waited. My room was large with a huge window that took up an entire wall, with white plantation shutters looking out over a playground.

Bouncing on the birth ball to start contractions, something I had been doing for months!
Bouncing on the birth ball, something I had been doing for months! Why do my feet look so big?

By 1pm, no “progress” was made, I was still 3 cm dilated. Still confident, I agreed to start Pitocin. My nurse hooked up an IV and started me on a very low dose. It began working immediately. Ryan and my mom had gone down to the cafeteria to grab lunch so I actually had my first real contraction while they were out of the room. My nurse was able to shut the Pitocin off after a little while since it started making my contractions too close together, and boy were they intense!

For the next 6 hours, I labored. I squatted, I lunged, I twisted and turned by body in any way that gave momentary relief. I breathed in sync with my mom and listened as Ryan “counted down” each contraction. As I would feel the pressure and discomfort building, I would ask him “How much longer?” and, although I realize now that he was completely guessing, he would start counting down from ten. Before he reached one, the contraction was subsiding. Laurel’s heart rate was perfect the entire time, I felt so fortunate. Over the hours, I could see my belly get lower and lower, as our baby moved deeper into the birth canal. She was getting ready to make her debut!

It’s interesting to think about the comfort measures that I thought I would want during labor: massage, counter-pressure, touching, bouncing on the birth ball, walking around, music. I wanted none of these. I did not want to be touched and music was irritating, almost like it was over-stimulating. During our birth class, we practiced all of these techniques and Ryan knew exactly what to do and say; however, when the time came it all went out the window! We even made a birth poster with “reminders” and little sayings that Ryan could refer to. I remember the best thing for me was keeping my eyes closed, breathing deeply, and rocking back and forth on the bed, go figure. My foot actually fell asleep several times because I had it tucked under me on the bed. My mom would massage it when it would get tingly.

Weeks prior, Ryan and I had a conversation with my OB about different laboring and birth positions, mainly to get a feel for what she was comfortable with. I’ll never forget her response because it still makes me giggle to visualize, “You can swing from the lights during labor if you want but I’d prefer you near the bed when it’s time to push.” I appreciated her for being so supportive of our birth plan (minus the swinging from the lights thing).

Eventually, I was almost fully dilated, I lunged on the side of the bed and pushed past a cervical lip. When my RN told me I was 10 cm I said, “Are you sure, you’re not joking right?!” I was so happy! She told me to push whenever I felt the urge to. For the next two hours, I pushed and pushed and pushed. I started in a squat position, using the squat bar on the bed. This helped Laurel pass my pubic bone, which she was stalled at for a bit. We didn’t know at that time how big her head was, gulp.

It started to feel good to completely relax, or should I say collapse, between each contraction & push, so I ended up on my back while pushing. Throughout my pregnancy, when I had visualized giving birth, I saw myself on all fours, or even in a squat position so gravity could help me. When I would collapse between pushes, that was when Ryan would stick a straw in my mouth and tell me to sip water, which I was so thankful for. He also reapplied my chapstick which was a Godsend! (#1 thing to pack in your hospital bag: chapstick!) Read about what else I brought in my hospital bag here.

I must mention that throughout the entire process, Ryan had our GoPro strapped to his head. He started the video on our drive to the hospital. One of his main jobs was to take pictures and videos for me to watch later. I’ve watched the videos probably a hundred times. I would highly recommend that to anyone. Even if you’re not loving the idea of having your experience filmed, at least have someone snap some pictures so you can remember those moments we quickly forget afterward.

The time came when our OB entered the room, the bottom of the bed was dropped, and the whole world (it seemed) was staring at my crotch. I even had a nurse intern right next to me, holding one of my legs. I could feel the poor guys arms shaking the entire time. I had agreed to allow the intern in on my birth because I figured, and my nurse confirmed later, that they don’t get to see many unmedicated births. He definitely had a story to write home about!

My precious baby girl entered the world at 9:39pm and, after a very brief once-over by the doctor, was placed on my chest and not moved for the next two hours. Ryan and I were crying, she was screaming, and the entire room cheered. It was the happiest day of my life! I have tears as I type this now. Her vitals were checked as she stayed curled on my chest. She latched on to breastfeed right away, umbilical cord still attached. After about three minutes, Ryan cut the umbilical cord and then said what later become an infamous phrase in our house, “I helped! I did something!”

After hours of skin-to-skin contact on both me and Ryan, Laurel was brought to the scale just on the other side of the room, while I went to the restroom. While in the restroom, I hear, “Whoa! No way!” and Ryan informed me that our baby was 10 pounds 1 ounce and 22 inches long. I think we all just started laughing. After we settled into our new hospital room, Ryan and I just stared in awe at the miracle we created. I don’t think I slept a wink that night.

Laurel, Ryan, and I stayed at the hospital for two nights as we acclimated to life as a family of 3. The hospital was amazing and let me order as much food as I wanted. Surprisingly the hospital food was delicious and my appetite was ravenous, thanks to breastfeeding, so I really appreciated that. My nurses were wonderfully doting which made the middle-of-the-night blood pressure checks as enjoyable as they could be. My mom stayed at our house to take care of our dogs and would come and go from the hospital throughout the day. My dad sent us a few Edible Arrangements, tons of balloons, and stuffed animals. My mother-in-law flew in the day after Laurel was born. Friends visited us at the hospital and brought meals to our house, which was so appreciated. It all feels like so long ago now but what a wonderful time it was! I hope to never forget these moments. I plan to tell Laurel about her birthday as often as she’ll want to hear about it. I can just imagine her now, asking me, “Mommy, tell me about the best day of your life.”

Coming home from the hospital as a family of 3.
Coming home as a family of 3.
baby 8 days old.
Laurel, 8 days old.
baby 8 days old
Laurel, 8 days old.

 

Cloth Diapering 101: Why

Cloth diapering is one of those awkward topics that people are either really interested in or have no desire to even hear about. If you’re curious as to why you should cloth diaper or how to start, I’m glad you stopped by! Cloth diapering has come a long way since our grandparents’ time. Safety pins and buckets of bleach have been replaced by velcro or snaps and a toilet sprayer and wet bag, respectively. If “wet bag” and “toilet sprayer” are foreign words to you, that’s okay. By the time you finish reading this, my hope is that you understand the many reasons to cloth diaper, feel comfortable with the idea of cloth diapering, and know where to start if you decide to do it.

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Cloth diapers come in a variety of cute colors and patterns!

I knew I wanted to cloth diaper before I even got pregnant. I started researching cloth diaper brands and reviews, reading blogs just like this one with how-to information, and watching YouTube videos on cloth diapering. When I officially became pregnant, that was the time I started accumulating diapers and related items, as I knew I had time to wait for sales and deals.

Ryan and I have been cloth diapering Laurel since she was about a week old and have loved every minute of it. I have never once regretted our decision to cloth diaper. Before we pulled the trigger and started investing in materials, I was a bit nervous that it might be more difficult than I thought. For all of the reasons listed below, cloth diapering is truly a gift that keeps giving. Whether you’re 9 weeks pregnant, 39 weeks pregnant, or you have a 9 month old, it’s never too late to start!

Laurel CD
Laurel at 9 months.

Reasons to Cloth Diaper:

  1. Cloth diapering saves money. Although this wasn’t the main reason Ryan and I decided to cloth diaper, it was definitely a cherry on top of our decision. While buying the cloth diapers and accessories can be a bigger upfront cost, in the long run you save a lot of money. The fact that you can use the same cloth diapers if you have more than one child compounds your savings. The fact that you can also usually sell your used diapers when you’re done with them saves you even more. On average, a baby uses 2700 diapers in the first year alone, and at 0.15-0.39 cents per diaper, well that could be anywhere from $400-1000+ (depending on the brand). That doesn’t even include wipes! Some might argue that the laundry for the cloth diapers causes your water bill to increase, which could negate the cost benefits of cloth diapering altogether. We haven’t found this to be the case, as the increase in our water bill has been negligible. There’s no question that cost savings is a huge benefit of cloth diapering.
  2. Cloth diapering is better for the environment. This was one if the main driving forces behind our decision to cloth diaper. Cloth diapers = zero trash. General consensus says that a diaper takes about 500 years to decompose in a landfill. Yikes. Remember how I mentioned that a baby uses about 2700 diapers in the first year alone? That’s a lot of diapers in the landfill. Need I say more?
  3. Less blowouts. Notice in the picture below that there is elastic at the top of the cloth diaper in the back (left). This prevents poop from flowing out of the diaper up your child’s back (right). A baby’s poop is soft and able to escape out of gaps and holes in diapers for about the first year. Ask any parent about blow outs and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. These rarely happen with cloth diapers. The only times we have had leakage with our cloth diapers have been due to user error, when we were figuring out the proper size setting for her. Leakage often means that the diaper was on a setting that was too loose, an easy fix with a cloth diaper.

 

4. Cloth diapers are better for baby’s delicate skin. Disposable diapers can contain perfumes, dyes, chlorine, along with several other chemicals I can’t even pronounce. This was one of the other main reasons Ryan and I decided to cloth diaper. With the rise of issues potentially stemming from childhood these days, from allergies to infertility, I didn’t want to expose our baby to harmful chemicals that early. A baby’s skin is so absorbent and delicate that they often get diaper rashes when using disposable diapers. Natural fibers and fabrics allow for more “breathability,” (versus plastic-blend disposables) helping regulate scrotal temperature for boys and preventing yeast growth for girls, not to mention increasing overall comfort. Would you rather where a shirt made of organic cotton or “synthetic material?”

5. Is there anything cuter than a baby in a cloth diaper? You tell me..

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Laurel at 9 months.
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Laurel sleeping on the beach at 4 months.
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Laurel at 9 months.

If I have you convinced that there are several good reasons to cloth diaper and you’ve made the decision to do it. Look for my next post – Cloth Diapering 101: How.